Moone Boy

I found Moone Boy on one (or more) of my trips to the UK this year. Not strictly in the UK, but on the Emirates flights there, and, quite possibly, back. It’s Irish, it’s original and it’s really funny. Not Emirates. Emirates is Emirati, works to a mildly innovative, but otherwise unremarkable basic international carrier business plan and is less amusing.
No, it’s Moone Boy which is Irish, original and really funny. And rather surreal in parts. I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest that it might even be this generation’s Father Ted. Yes. It’s that good.

Here’s Martin starting “big school”:

Chris O’Dowd plays the imaginary friend of Martin Moone. No-one can see or hear him apart from Martin (this elaboration just in case you weren’t aware of how imaginary friends work), and – through the magic of TV – the viewers. It’s a semi-autobiographical account of O’Dowd’s own childhood in late 1980’s Ireland. It has the infamous Sultans Of Ping FC 1993 track Where’s Me Jumper as the theme music and it’s properly amusing.

So – why am I telling you this? Well, because it’s coming to SA next month. With DSTV having revised and improved its BBC offerings with the addition of BBC First (featuring programmes like Doctor Who and the latest drama from Benedict Thunderbeagle), there’s more space for other stuff on BBC Entertainment, which is now BBC Brit and will feature this… er… Irish comedy.

If you have a vaguely twisted sense of humour, and you’re willing to give it a couple of half hour episodes to learn a little more about the characters (and yes, I’m aware that people on long haul flights in and out of Dubai have considerably more spare time at their immediate disposal), you’re going to really enjoy this.

It starts next week. Please give it a go.

The folly of DSTV censorship

I was watching a couple of back episodes of The Blacklist last night on PVR and I was left bewildered by the censoring of certain parts of the audio.

Before we continue, let me point out that I am well aware of my responsibilities as a parent. I am also aware that I can switch the “family” audio selection (which silences “naughty” words) on or off, and that actually, I’m glad that we have that option: I don’t want my kids hearing the f-word every two minutes on the movie channel (or whatever).
I’m also happy to acknowledge that it’s my fault that I always forget to switch the “family” audio selection off before I start watching my stuff.

But those things are not really what this post is about.

Last night’s first episode (S01E09: “Anslo Garrick”, for the purists) centres around the main character, Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington – a successful, and seemingly untouchable “fixer” now turned FBI informant – being cornered by the horribly-scarred, revenge-seeking soldier of fortune Anslo Garrick, who we are told: “almost exclusively works with a group of heavily armed, highly skilled mercenaries who call themselves The Wild Bunch: former flag wavers made over in Frankenstein-like fashion into bloodless, country-less killers”.

Nice guys.

As Reddington states:

Why not let them have me, Donald?
I’ll likely be tortured for weeks and left to rot until they finally deign to put a bullet in my skull.

And within the first 5 minutes of the episode, The Wild Bunch have stormed the secret FBI facility, using silenced sub-machine guns to graphically tear apart the bodies of about 20 guards, and Garrick himself has needlessly shot a truck driver in the head at near point blank range, spraying his brain all over a truck window.

Another main character, Agent Ressler, has been shot in the leg and we can see the mix of blood, expensive suit, muscle tissue and bone, as he screams and writhes in agony on the floor of the bunker.

Now Garrick speaks to Reddington (who is trapped in a room, but currently “safe” behind blast-proof glass), his voice slow, hoarse and menacing:

Red, Red. Did you really think there was a distance you could cover or a hole deep enough that you could hide in? There is nowhere in this world that I cannot reach you, Red. Fortification be damned.
I heard you made yourself some sweet little immunity deal, Red. I heard that you fitted the FBI with strings, and now they hang upon your hip like a hatchet.

But they can’t keep you safe from someone like me, Red, someone who sat in blackness for five years.
Five years thinking about the pain I was going to inflict on you while slowly breaking your will, your body… and finally your mind.
That day is here, my friend.
And it will end with your screams, as God is my witness.

One almost completely forgets the multiple implausibilities of the scene as one is gripped by the unfolding drama.

Except, after all this, DSTV silenced the word “God” out of that last line.
You know, just in case anyone got offended by it.

Now, maybe some people are offended by the use of the word “God” there, and, while I think that’s rather silly of them, that’s their right. But why on earth are those people watching this programme with its repeated and graphic portrayals of mindless, callous violence? The insidious psychological effect of the threats and description of torture?
At what point are they offended by a three-letter word and not by the scenes of spraying blood, the screams of dying young men, the emotionless brutality depicted time and time again as someone else’s son or daughter is torn apart in a hail of bullets?

Who are these people and why do they not find themselves offended by that?
The dichotomy leaves me bewildered.

The episode we watched last night was rated 13 VL by DSTV. That is: “containing scenes of violence, and language which may be unsuitable for viewers below the age of 13”.

The violence even had my [redacted] year old wife looking away. But again, that’s another story.

The language… well… the only word in the entire 45 minutes which was removed was that one “God” above (and by “above”, I mean above in this post, not “Who art in Heaven”, ok?).

I’m not quite sure why a 12 year old shouldn’t be allowed to hear the phrase “God is my witness”, given that in any decent Christian school (like the one mine go to, incidentally), they’ll surely read (for example) Romans 1:9 and/or Philippians 1:8, which both, as I’m sure you’ll be well aware, feature that very phrase. Does it come down to context? Are those references in the New Testament considered somehow sacred just because they appear in “that book”?
In which case, maybe I’ve answered my own question. Perhaps the violence bit is ok, simply because there are no Biblical references to soldiers’ bodies being ripped apart in a spray of automatic gunfire?

Who on earth are we trying to protect in censoring the word “God” here, and what on earth are we trying to protect them from?

DSTV E45 error – Monday 25th February

If you are reading this, then you, like me, are probably struggling with an E45 “Service Not Authorised” error on your DSTV.

A little bit of searching – I used “Google” – gave me this from Fathima at MultiChoice:

Please don’t try any trouble shooting from your side.
Services will resume shortly.

So – please don’t try any troubleshooting from your side. Services will resume shortly.

Have a special day. (I added that bit myself.)

UPDATE: Incidentally, I had a quick look at twitter as well and while people were getting irate about the problem, they weren’t actually doing anything other than… er… getting irate about the problem. Read around a bit (which, I appreciate, you are doing now) and you can lower your blood pressure.
Many were also annoyed at the lack of response from the @dstv account, but with over 150 tweets per minute going through, I’m not sure  how people could reasonably expect a personal response.

UPDATE 2: Aaaaaand… it’s back. For me at least.

UPDATE 3: Aaaaaand… it’s gone again. Oh dear.

UPDATE 4: Aaaaaand it’s back again.